Long-standing issues previously identified by Skilled Trades Council
come to the fore with Board's public release of thousands of past work
TORONTO, Dec. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Thousands of work orders released to the
media by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) have highlighted
long-standing flaws in the system, according to the TDSB Maintenance
and Construction Skilled Trades Council (MCSTC).
"Work orders are vaguely written and often don't capture the true scope
of the work required. Timesheets allot less than one line to describe
the actual work required and the reasons for any additional time
required to complete a job," MCSTC Vice President Mike Morgan said.
Morgan described the current system as "totally inadequate" and said it
has been responsible for many of the misleading reports about time and
costs associated with completing work orders.
"We have made our concerns about the system known to management. Now
that this system has come under the microscope in the media and the
public, I think we'll see the Board make some much needed changes in
documenting and inputing the actual work done by our trades," Morgan
Because the format of timesheets does not allow skilled trades employees
to document various factors that determine the time it takes to
complete a work order, Morgan said MCTSC directed its members earlier
this year to keep a daily journal and log of their work and document
the information that is lacking from work orders, timesheets and change
Morgan said there are a number of other issues with the system. Among
Change orders (additional work required) for jobs are not recorded by
management, even though they are required to do this, as well as
document the information in work orders, and account for the change in
Work orders contain inaccurate or vague identification of the issue and
the actual work required, resulting in different trades people being
sent out to address the same situation at additional time and cost. For
example, roofers have been sent to repair a leak in classroom ceiling
when the issue is a leaking pipe requiring a plumber.
Trades workers dispatched to one job are reassigned to another and told
by TDSB supervisors to record hours to the original job, even though
the job was not completed.
Work orders are duplicated and different trades are sent to the same job
because management cannot identify the correct tradesperson required.
Work is incorrectly assigned. Trades people are sent to jobs that could
have been and should have been performed by a school caretaker. This
provision has been available to management since 1998 and years later
it is still not been properly followed. As a result, skilled trades
workers are sent to install pencil sharpeners, a job that a caretaker
could have done.
Travel time to and from job sites is not recorded separately. Nor is the
time required to pick up materials to complete a job or obtain new
materials due to the incomplete or inaccurate description of work in
work orders, recorded separately. The scope of work and time and
materials required can only be determined when a skilled tradesperson
is on site and evaluates the job.
Added to this are errors in recording time made by management staff, who
are responsible for entering information from hand-written timesheets
into a computer database. Skilled trades employees do not see to see
the final keyed in timesheet information to verify of accuracy.
The current flaws in the system, make it difficult to draw any firm
conclusions from the work orders that have been recently released to
the media, according to Morgan.
"What is absolutely true, and what everyone should keep in mind, is what
management's responsibilities are in all of this," Morgan said, adding
All work orders are approved and issued by management and supervisors,
not the MCSTC or skilled trade employees.
All time submitted by skilled trades employees relating to work orders
MUST be checked approved by TDSB supervisors.
Any irregularities or discrepancies between work orders and time
submitted and materials used requires reconciliation between
supervisors and trades workers when time sheets are submitted - not
weeks, months, or even years later.
Morgan said the TDSB is now attempting to reconstruct past work orders
to explain the scope of work and the hours assigned which it says will
be completed by January, 2013. Had all this information been properly
collected in work orders and timesheets, the information would be
A comprehensive review of all of these procedures was completed five
years ago and made several recommendations for improvement which the
"The Board has been slow to implement changes and improvements, " Morgan
"Media reports have falsely portrayed the MCSTC as some sort of
construction company that charges the TDSB for work. Nothing could be
further from the truth. The Council is a trade union that represents
employees of the TDSB that do maintenance and construction work at the
direction and under the supervision of management. The union's
function is the same as CUPE and teachers federations at the TDSB. "
SOURCE: Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council
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